Glyphosate – the End of Aspirin?
Written by Dr Klaus L E Kaiser
Dear Readers, Relax, this is not going to be a heavy-duty chemical lecture!
As you may have read in the news, the herbicide Roundup™ inventing company Monsanto had been bought by the company that invented the medicinal compound Aspirin™, i.e. the Bayer AG, back in 2018. Roundup is said to be the world’s most widely used herbicide.
You may also have seen reports on lawsuits in the Golden State, CA, and elsewhere that accused (and convicted) Monsanto, respectively its new owner, Bayer AG, of causing a rare cancer and so on via Roundup’s active ingredient, i.e. glyphosate. The current number of lawsuits in that genre tops 13,000 – yes, some thirteen thousand – already. Just wait for a while, that number is likely to increase.
Even without making any statement on the merit of such legal proceedings, pro or con, it’s probably safe to assume that the courts will be busy with them for a long time to come, perhaps lasting for decades.
So, let’s take a closer look at the material known as:
As far as I can reckon, the critical question in that regard is whether or not its active ingredient can be deemed a “carcinogen” or perhaps just a likely or possible carcinogen. I wrote about that in another recent post (here). It has seen numerous scientific reviews in a number of countries, suffice it to point to a couple of links (here and here) and not elaborate on it any further now. Let’s go on then to the next chemical, one that you’ll likely be familiar with, widely known as “Aspirin.”
Unless you’ve never had a body-ache at all, never needed anything from any drugstore at all, it’s nearly a sure bet that you have taken “an aspirin” at one time or another. Aspirin, the tradename for the chemical “acetylsalicyclic acid” is a medication used to treat pain, fever, inflammation and other ailments. It has now been around since its first synthesis, nearly 170 years ago. The aforementioned Bayer AG started to market it as a medicinal product some 120 years ago and, even today, you can find numerous recommendations for its benefits to human health and longevity.
Since then, this quite simple chemical (structure shown above) has already extended the lives of many people across the world. No surprise then. It’s still being recommended as a “first step” medicine for anyone experiencing a mild heart attack, with “take two aspirins and see a doctor, ASAP.”
So, should everyone take a couple of such pills, every day, just as a precaution? Is there anything wrong with the widely touted “Precautionary Principle?”
The Precautionary Principle (PP)
No doubt, that advice on aspirin has extended the lives of many people, but not necessarily that of everyone who may have ever taken it.
Of course, there are always a few people, anywhere, who happen to be highly sensitive to something that is profoundly beneficial to most others. That holds true for just about anything, aspirin, glyphosate, water or air. In fact, as any certified SCUBA diver will have learned, even oxygen (the air constituent vital to our life), becomes toxic when breathed in at a 100% concentration for more than 15 minutes or so. That’s the same oxygen you and I most likely could not live without for a few minutes, before falling into a coma and/or dying soon after.
It ought to tell you that the “Precautionary Principle,” as commonly applied, is a faulty approach. That can be shown easily in several ways. For example, hammers and screwdrivers are essential tools worldwide. Misuse or lack of control of either one has also caused many injuries. The PP, as widely applied these days, would indicate that we should ban both of them – of course, that’s nonsense.
If 21% oxygen in the air is good for life, wouldn’t 100% be even better? Conversely, if 100% oxygen is bad for life (after a few minutes) shouldn’t we apply the PP and ban it from the atmosphere altogether (if that were even possible)?
Furthermore, even nitrogen, that benign other air constituent (comprising 78% of the atmosphere) will cause “nitrogen narcosis,” also known as “Martini effect” by divers, can kill you.
Applying the PP to eliminate both oxygen and nitrogen from the air would only leave the element argon and a few trace constituents in the air. While argon does not have any direct toxic effects, it would not sustain life either. That’s why pure argon is used as a protective gas in many welding operations.
The Precautionary Principle needs to be balanced with common sense and reason!
In the end, it all comes down to nature’s principle, formulated by Paracelsus (1493-1541) which says “the dose makes the effect.”
If I may paraphrase the PP in terms of either glyphosate or aspirin, if you intend to live on such substances as your sole sustenance, you will not last long — but at small dose exposures, they are highly beneficial to our health, respectively, for bountiful food production.
Long live aspirin and glyphosate!
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